Passengers will be able to use the bus services they rely on for longer after planned route cuts have been halted thanks to a subsidy.

Reading Buses, the biggest operator in the area, recently announced changes to its services which come into effect this September.

The changes affect bus services connecting the villages of Shinfield, Swallowfield, Arborfield and other communities to Reading and Wokingham.

The buses affected were the Tiger 7 and Leopard 3, 8 and 9 routes.

READ MORE: Reading Buses changes to service as government funding ends

Now, Wokingham Borough Council has negotiated a deal to extend the operations of these services until at least next spring.

The services have been preserved thanks to a subsidy agreed by the borough council’s executive committee on  August 8.

It means the Reading Buses contract to run buses in the  area has been extended until March 31, 2023.

The extension has been funded using developer contributions.

What changes have been made?

The council’s intervention means the routes have been preserved, with the following changes.

The 7 and 8 buses will become a revised extensions of the Mereoak Park and Ride 600 service with two hourly buses running about 30 minutes apart from Monday to Saturday.

One will pass through Swallowfield, Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross, then along the A33 into Reading, while the other will run from Reading to Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood and then onto Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield.

READ MORE: People in Reading unsurprised park and ride bus service was cut

Meanwhile, the Leopard 3 timetable will also be adjusted so that pupils leaving after-school clubs at Bohunt School in Arborfield can catch buses into Wokingham.

Generally, prices on Reading Buses have increased, typically by 20p for a single journey and 40p for a return.

Passengers urged to use buses 

Councillor Paul Fishwick (Liberal Democrats, Winnersh), executive member for transport, urged members of the public to make use of the preserved services.

He said:  “This is a short-term measure, but an important one considering the significant number of residents who would have been affected by losing these services.

“We’re delighted to have kept them going for now and would like to thank everyone who worked hard to investigate different options to make this possible – including our officers, Reading Buses and the parish councils, all of whom played a very active role.

“Buses are a crucial part of the bigger picture when it comes to reducing car use – particularly in rural areas, where they provide a vital link between villages and to jobs, shops and services in bigger towns.

“By enabling and encouraging their use, we can improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions to help tackle the climate emergency. This will also improve people’s health while addressing inequality and rising living costs by offering a genuinely affordable way of getting around.”

READ MORE: Reading Buses announce new shuttle service for NHS staff

Cllr Fishwick added the services would be more likely to survive if use increased.

He said: “I would urge as many people as possible to travel by bus – it’s safe, affordable, convenient and far less polluting than driving.

“Buses will be even more needed in years to come, which is why we’re doing all we can to meet this challenge.

“But if we don’t all play our part to keep them afloat now, we may suddenly find it’s too late.”